Tag Archives: Blogging

A Blogging Recalibration

4 Nov

My blogging anniversary came and went with little fanfare. I did not say anything about it, but I got one of those silver trophies from the WordPress folks. It is hard to believe that I have been blogging for all this time.

Through the years, I have learned a lot. I have learned that some people are interested in the mysteries of gas pumps, and other people want to know the deeper meanings of Smokey and the Bandit.

I have also learned that friends can be made through the Internet. There are people out the who I have come to know, respect and care about. Some of them have left the blogging community, but others are still typing away.

Many of you know that this blog started in a therapy session. My therapist felt that I needed to release some mental frustrations and suggested a diary of some sort. I felt that a diary would not properly release the tension because I would be the only one reading it. The internal noise needed to be released in a different way. Hence, this blog was born.

Those early days were full of caustic writing that was sarcastic and, at times, mean-spirited. In fact, my first comment was negative and came from someone who I knew. The blog was anonymous, and I have still not figured out how they found it.

Getting that comment was also surprising because hardly anyone read the blog. The first month saw an average of two readers a day. However, I kept writing because that was two readers more than there would be if I did not write.

At some point, I began to focus on the statistics. More readers found their way to this place. As the content grew, the readership grew. However, I wanted more and decided to publicize the blog on Twitter.

Honestly, that may have been a mistake. I had to delete some early posts because I did not want people in my real life to read them. Of course, it was impossible to get rid of everything that came pouring out of my mine, and some people close to me were hurt by the words they found.

Publicizing the blog also transformed my writing. A lot of the thoughts inside my mind had to stay there because not everyone needs to know what goes on in there. I decided to stay away from controversial subjects and go with more entertaining stuff. At least, topics that I think are entertaining.

Along the way, the blog kept growing. I was lucky enough to be Freshly Pressed. Although, I still do not understand how a post that included Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man caught the attention of those who decide what is worthy of being Freshly Pressed.

Getting Freshly Pressed created another goal. I wanted to reach the same numbers in another month that I got in the Freshly Pressed month, and that finally happened earlier this year.

I write all of that to write the following. Statistics have become more important than the writing. I have put bad posts out there just for the sake of publishing posts. This means that I have veered completely away from what this blog is supposed to be.

I started the blog to get words out of my head. In a lot of instances, those words were not nice. When I began to publicize the blog, the words changed, but the goal of the blog did not. I was still getting words out of my head. When statistics became the focus, I was typing words that were not really in my head. At least, they were not in there for long.Recalibration

As of today, I am going to recalibrate the blog. I am not going to publish posts just for the sake of numbers. I am going to write when something needs to be written. In other words, when something needs to come out of my mind. That means that I will not be writing as often, and the numbers will probably decrease. However, I hope the quality of the blog will improve.

A Natural High

1 Jul

In April of 2013, I wrote a post about movies ending with someone riding into the sunset, and, shockingly, that post was Freshly Pressed. My statistics shot out of the roof as people click on that post and commented. After a few days, the “Click on SBI” hysteria died, and the numbers returned to normal. That means that April of 2013 looks like a rodent going through the belly of a snake. There is a big bulge right in the middle.Fat Snake

Since that month, I have been looking for that point where this blog’s numbers will match the numbers of April 2013. However, I have been looking for it to happen naturally rather than through the artificial inflation of being Pressed.

June of 2015 turned out to be that month. For the first time, this blog reached the same numbers as it did two years ago. Hopefully, that happened because the posts are of better quality and more interest.

The posts that drove the June numbers were:

The Power of 601 – a celebration of the 601st post

A Name Change – the announcement of a new name for the blog

Name That Blog – the request for assistance in renaming the blog

Down in Monterey – an ode to the music festival

The Lafayette Expedition – a historic romp with my wife through a small Tennessee town

Thank you to everyone who read those posts and all of the other ones.

Forcing the Issue

28 Jun

I feel that my best posts are created organically. They pop into my brain and make their way onto the screen in a free-flowing manner. They are not forced.

Sometimes, I force myself to blog, and the resulting posts are not my best. This is when I fallback on my iPod and movie quotes. As you can see from the past few posts, I am in time of writer’s block. Nothing is coming to my mind, and I have a couple of options.

I could not write.

I could force something that I really do not like.

Of course, there is a third choice. I could drive myself crazy trying to think of a good idea and pretend it is free-flowing.

For example, I could write about whether anyone would protest if this flag was flying over a state capitol.Flag CSA

I could also write about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. We talk a lot about the Bill of Rights, but this one has always fascinated me. In fact, I would bet that most federal lawsuits are based on this amendment because it deals with civil rights. Section 1 reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This is the paragraph on which the Supreme Court based its decision concerning gay marriage.

The amendment was ratified in 1868. However, that process was fraught with problems. Most of the southern states refused to ratify it. I say most because Tennessee was the third state to pass the amendment, coming in behind Connecticut and New Hampshire. As a result, Congress, led by the Radical Republicans, passed the Reconstruction Acts. This meant that the remaining states of the old Confederacy had to pass the amendment in order to get back into the United States.

Oh yeah, those were the states that fought under that flag further up in the post. That was the first flag of the Confederate States of America. I bet a lot of people on both sides of the Confederate flag issue would not recognize it.

Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln did not think the states had the legal right to secede and planned on getting them back in with a pledge of allegiance from a certain percentage of each state’s voters. I wonder what would have happened with the 14th Amendment if he had still been alive. However, that is alternative history, and history is tough enough without thinking about what might have happened.

I could write about a song that I just downloaded, “Stole the Show” by Kygo. It also features Parson James. Anyway, it makes me think of how I used to handle relationships with women. However, that is too much information. Just know that I am happy to be married and have all of that behind me.

On second thought, I will put it this way. I always envisioned myself as Burt Reynolds driving into the sunset at the end of Gator. In other words, I was an idiot.

I could write about those things and a lot of other stuff that I have tried to cram into my mind. However, that will be forcing the issue, and I do not want to do that.

A Name Change

24 Jun

As many of you know, my wife suggested that I change the name of this blog. A few posts ago, I asked for suggestions, and I received a bunch of good suggestions. Some people sent over new names, and others said that I should not change a thing. I have a brand, and that brand is Surrounded By Imbeciles.

After days of contemplation, I have decided, like a good politician, to ride the fence. The blog name will change, but a bit of its heritage will remain.

Surrounded By Imbeciles will be shortened to SBI. New readers may not know what that means, but the old timers will be in the know. (Of course, the blog’s web address will give it away. It is hard to completely change the name when it is right there in that top bar.)

SBI will be followed by A Thinning Crowd. This represents the fact that I am no longer surrounded by imbeciles. Obviously, there are still imbeciles in the world, and I still encounter them. However, I am surrounded by a bunch of good people, and the imbeciles are “a thinning crowd.”Bleachers

For the foreseeable future, this blog will be known as SBI: A Thinning Crowd. However, I reserve the right to change it at any time. If I sense more imbeciles on the horizon, then the crowd is no longer thinning.

 

The Ghosts of Posts Past

21 Dec

A long time ago, I published a post called “Only the Rocks Live Forever.” You can read the link, but the title kind of speaks for itself. Unfortunately, that title is wrong.

Let me explain.

This blog began as a suggestion by my therapist. My mind would become overwhelmed with all manner of thoughts that dealt with all manner of issues. It was great to relieve some of that psychological pressure in her office, but she felt that something else would help. Hence, this blog was born.

In the beginning, this thing was anonymous, and I railed on anything and everything that brought frustration. This ranged from the ridiculousness of everyday life to complaints about the people around me, from family to friends.

One day, I realized that the blog was no longer anonymous when I received a negative comment about one of the posts. It was a cruel post based on a scene from a movie. The post was deleted and rewritten in a nicer way. However, I knew that the blogging experience had changed, and the blog would have to change with it.

I read through the posts and deleted all of the ones that I felt would be harmful to the people around me. The frustrated, cynical, therapist induced blog was dead, and a new one was born. I began publishing posts on Twitter, and the page views shot up. People all around me started reading posts about travel, concerts, and any dumb thing I could think up.

A few minutes ago, I learned that it is not just the rocks that live forever. Blog posts live forever, too. The task of deleting all posts that would hurt people proved impossible. On December 21, 2011, I wrote a post about my terrible day. I blasted just about everything and everyone that I encountered. It was a full-blown therapy post from the time of blogging anonymity.

One of the people in the post just read it and asked me to delete it. That post no longer exists, and I am sorry for hurting them.

The post came a few weeks after the blog began, and I was only averaging 5 readers a day. Essentially, I was writing for myself because I was the only one reading it. I had to get that day out of my mind.

Those are not excuses. I knew that the Internet was a public forum and decided to put my thoughts into its tangled web. Then, I naively thought I could get rid of everything negative and turn the blog into something else. It did not work.

Today is December 21, 2014, and I am a completely different person than I was when this blog began. Back then, I was working my way out of a bad place and needed an outlet to help me crawl out. Today, I am in a wonderful place and am happier than I have ever been. There are a ton of real life reasons that have put me into this place, but I am convinced that this blog has played a large role. In that way, it worked.

For everyone that has read this blog and been hurt by it, I apologize.

For everyone who has read this blog and enjoyed it, I am glad that you have.

For everyone who has read, liked and commented, I say thank you.

My iPod Has Issues – WordPress Has Joined the Crazy Club

9 Dec

This morning, I logged into WordPress and found that the format has been changed. Obviously, this is not the first time that changes have taken place, and each time I have to learn how to navigate the system to get where I want.

It an old-fashioned question, but why fix something that is not broken? Ever heard of New Coke?New Coke

Hold on. Scratch that. The classic system I signed up on was not broken. The changes since that time have gradually made the platform worse. With each change, I have figured out how to get back to the classic. One of these days, the classic dashboard is going to be deleted, and the blogging world will stop spinning.

Anyway, the folks at WordPress either need busy work to justify their continued employment, or they have joined the crazy club. My iPod is the only thing crazier than these constant changes. With that in mind, we will go completely off the wall and use this crazy blogging platform to explore my crazy iPod.

Hold on to your minds!

“The Reflex” by Duran Duran

“La Grange” by ZZ Top

“Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan

“Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin

“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by Dionne Warwick

“Baby Love” by The Supremes

“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan

“The Devil Made Me Do It” by Golden Earring

“In The Garden” by John Prine and Mac Wiseman

“Say You Really Care” by Roscoe Shelton

“Cool” by Lou Busch and His Orchestra

“Big Long Slidin’ Thing” by Dinah Washington

“Bad Businessman” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

“Funk #49” by James Gang

“Coelocanth” by Shriekback

“Luckenbach, Texas” by Waylon Jennings

“Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke

“Banditos” by The Refreshments

“Hallelujah” by Sweathog

“Escape of Jennie Wiley” by Hylo Brown

“Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple

“Roane County Prison” by Bill Monroe

“Beau Geste” by Hadley J. Castille

“Everlasting Love” by Robert Knight

“Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price

Our brief musical interlude is over. Now, WordPress. Fix yourself.

Losing My Blogging Mind

29 Oct

Earlier, I wrote what I thought was a great post about one of my childhood memories. It was all about this restaurant and the cool jukeboxes at each table. I wrote it. I made sure everything was correct. I published it.

That is when I started thinking that maybe I had already written about that. Going through my archives, I found that I had written about the exact same thing in a post called Childhood Memories: Country Roads. That is when I realized that I have lost my blogging mind. Things are bad when I start repeating myself.Shining

Hopefully, it is a condition that many people face when they have been blogging for a couple of years. If not, then I know that I am on the cusp of going bonkers in the blogging part of my life.